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Tourism zones

IT is the first time that any government is giving so much importance to capitalize on the country’s vast and diverse tourism potential which indeed will help accrue maximum economic benefits and generate thousands of job opportunities.
After liberalizing the visa regime, the federal government on Thursday took another important step when it announced to establish nineteen integrated tourism zones – eleven in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and eight in Punjab to showcase tourist potential of the country and preserve natural beauty, biodiversity and forest cover. This model of tourism zones has remained very successful in many countries to bring value and competitiveness to the tourism which has now assumed the shape of the third largest industry in world after oil and automobiles because of its vast scope and dimension. Such tourism zones in other parts of the world are exempted or granted leniency from regulations under any statute related to tourism activities and in which it is required to apply endeavours to develop an environment for tourism, such as services, information system and public relations. We also expect that the integrated zones to be established both in the KP and Punjab, all kinds of arrangements and facilities ranging from transport and accommodation will be made available by involving the private sector to attract both the domestic and foreign tourists. We will rather suggest that in order to make these zones successful models, special incentives and exemptions should be given to investors to build the necessary infrastructure there ensuring also that the people have easy and hassle-free access to the picturesque sites. A number of countries such as the UAE are already expressing great interest in the tourism sector and by offering them incentives we can attract a great deal of foreign investment in this industry which will also help bring more tourists from abroad. Though the tourism is a devolved subject now, but the federal government should also do the needful to establish the tourism zones in Sindh and Balochistan provinces in order to tap their tourism potential from historic sites to deserts and beaches. Recently a tourism summit was organized in the federal capital to project a positive image of the country. More such publicity campaigns need to be initiated not only at home but also abroad. Besides social media tools, our missions abroad also need to be activated to present a true picture of Pakistan to the world that the country is now safe and open for all to see the beauty of its people and land.